Friday, April 24, 2009

The Box Made of Bamboo

I stayed back as Nishi left in her red Maruti. I cannot afford to take a taxi back home. I have to walk till the Bus Stop, which is no nearer than almost a kilometer from the gate of our office.

The rain was problem. The early summer rainy weather in Haridashpur tells a lot about the climate here. However, the cool breeze along with the drizzle was invigorating. Spring does not stay here for long. Summer starts almost as winter ends. That means that the rains came after a good seven or eight months. No, it rained during Durga Puja too. Yes, it did – I am sure of it.

Anyways, I was getting late. The last bus would arrive in – hmm – let me see the watch. Yes, the last bus will arrive in twenty minutes. I need to reach the Bus Stop before that.

I held one end of my Dhoti and jostled it in to the waist knot. I held the other end with the two fingers of my left hand and made an umbrella with my leather handbag and stepped into the puddle. The leather sandals got wet the very moment and declined to walk along any further. I stepped back and came inside the shed. I took the sandals and put them into a plastic carry bag, in which I brought my lunch to office and carefully put them inside the handbag. They went in and there were no more snags. I could walk now.

I stepped back into the muddy road – this time, bare footed. The touch of the mud gave my senses a warning; but, my senses winked and cheered me up. I started to walk. The smell of the rain, the fresh zephyr and the stench of the mud was making me nostalgic.

I went back to my childhood. I remembered how I rescued the 3 kittens from my neighborhood in one such rainy day. I remembered the aftermath too.

I walked briskly, for the Bus Stop was not near. The drizzle got heavier and the small handbag could just get wet along with me. The Kurta was all wet by the time I reached the next corner lane. I will get a good spanking today once I reach home, I knew. This is only the second Kurta I have; the other one I received last year, during my sister’s marriage.

I liked walking in the rain. I would remain here forever, getting wet – getting drenched in these pearls that were dropping from heavens and hitting me like sharp nails. I wished the heavens were not that far away.

But I had to move – and move swiftly. I rushed through a few people and a beautiful girl, whom I would have stopped and gazed otherwise. The deserved that; but not in this rain. I ran.

Just before taking the next left towards the Bus Stop, I saw a small dark boy, not more than twelve years old, sitting in the corner of a big building. He was sitting alone; trying to steal himself away from the ever increasing rain. He was shivering; probably in the cold. I did not have time to look at him, so I moved on.


He called me? No! That is just an illusion. I took a few steps further.

“O Babu…”

It was him! Calling me at this time, when the rain is wetting me consistently and the next bus arrives in ten minutes now. What the hell!

I asked him what happened. He showed me the small box made of bamboo that he had beneath him. He was sitting on it all the time, protecting it from the rain. Then he showed me the two dots on his left hand – two deep cut marks. I took his hands on mine.

Snake bites! I was sure about it. I have known and seen snakes every week in my house. They used to visit us weekly – regularly for generations. We killed a lot of snakes in our house; perhaps, I myself had killed some ten snakes till now! I know what snakes are and what their venomous bites can do.

His hands were getting blue. He was not dark, but his whole body was now having a bluish tint. He was bitten by a snake and it has been a long time since that! He fell down, on my feet.

*** Three hours later, in Haridashpur Government Hospital ***

“Are you fine, boy?”

He could not open his eyes. They must be too heavy, after the antibiotics that the doctors gave him. I brought him to them just at the right time. The doctors said that the snake must have been low venomous and the poison did not spread in his body too much; however, if it was not for me, he might have gone into a coma!

“Are you fine?”

“Where is my box?” The boys jumped on his bed and shouted at the peak of his voice.

“What box?”

“The box I was sitting on! Where is that box?”

“There, at the corner. I brought it along too.”

“Oh! Thank you Babu, thank you a lot! Thank you for bringing my box along.” There was a clear sign of relief on his face. I could see that.

It was already too late. I called up home and informed them all about the incident and told them that I might have to stay back in the hospital if necessary. They were ok with it, after they heard all the heroics I did today. I was happy for it. The nurses around were smiling at me; the doctors were patting my back for bringing a road ridden boy to the hospital and saving his life – attention, I am so deprived of!

I was also a bit interested to know the story so that I do not leave my friends halfway while telling them the tale of my gallant efforts. I went near him and sat closed to him.

“What happened? How did you get bitten by the snake?”

“I did not get bitten. It was an accident. Shiva had to bite me. He was helpless too.”

“Shiva bit you? Shiva?”

“Yes, Shiva, my snake.”

“Your snake?”

“Yes. I’m the son of a snake charmer. Shiva is my snake, which my father caught a week ago and gifted him to me. I would maintain Shiva and train him for performances. He is my snake.”

“Then why did it bite you?” asked a nurse, awestruck by the story. The other two came and sat near to hear the story.

“I told you. He did not bite me. Father told me to wait for him in the corner of that building and take care of Shiva. He was trying to come out of the box and I tried to put him back in it. He was frightened; so he bit me in self defense. He never wanted to do that. He even does not know that he has poison in his bite!”

“Why did not you call anyone for help?” Somebody asked.

“I could not leave the place myself. Father asked me to stay there. I had to take care of Shiva too. However, I called out to a few other Babus but they did not come to me.”

Everyone in the room was captivated with the story. A few patients lying nearby sat up to take a look at the young snake charmer.

“Bring me my box please, Babu.”

I went and brought the wet bamboo box to him and held it over his lap.

“Where is Shiva now? Did you catch him?”

“Yes, I did! Here he is,” said the boy in excitement and he opened the lid of the box with a jerk.

The snake inside sprang up and the two nurses sitting on the bed sprang up too and fell down. I do not know what happened to the rest who were pouring on to the discussion; for the first thing that Shiva did after he came out of the box was to bite my hand which was still holding the box. I saw pitch darkness all around me.

When I woke up, there were at least 20 people in that Hospital Emergency Room – all looking at me like I was the last Dodo around. A dark big man was standing along with the boy whom I rescued, smiling at me from behind his big fat moustache. I could hardly see his grin; but I smiled back!

“He saved you,” the doctor pointed towards the big man. He added, “he took out all the poison from your hand and I did not have to touch you a bit,” and laughed away.

The big man smiled again. I smiled back at him.

I looked around. Everyone on earth whom I knew, were there in the hospital room. My parents, my sister, my brother in law were there. Even Nishi and Rajan, my colleagues were there too – all staring at me.

I looked at Rajan and raised my eyebrows.

“Three hours,” he said.

I was ashamed. The very thought of my own heroics have faded long ago. I was feeling insecure, shy and diffident in front of everybody. I wanted to go home.

“Are you fine, Babu?” the little boy asked, with the most beautiful smile I have ever seen and holding the box of bamboo with both hands – perhaps it was the closest thing to his heart.

Written as prompted on:
Tell a Tale : Week # 6: Snake


  1. So beautifully narrated Tan, you are such a master story-teller. Those minor details here and there really beautify the stories you write,
    GREAT JOB Babu!!

  2. you do have some REALLY GOOD ideas !! *bows to thee*

  3. A story well written with a nice twist at the end.
    I will use your story to tell others why Old Grizz does not like sneaky snake

  4. A hero being upstaged by a bigger hero, good story Tan,I enjoyed it.

  5. A Good Story. Dhoti? Something like pants? Hopefully so. And as Pretty Me said, you have got very good ideas.

    Write On!!

  6. @ Sudharam

    Thanks a lot, Sahib. I just wanted to put up some words, some situations and some characters in it. Gave a bit Bengali touch. hehehe...

    @ Pratibha

    Thanks to thee, Miss. These ideas are the only things I have... rest all are just words... remember that song? WORDS?? yea... rest all are mere words...

    @ Old Grizz

    Welcome to my blog. Please spend some time and read my other posts too. Thanks for dropping by. :) :)

    @ Amias

    You never know who the hero is, until the deed is done!

    @ Pisku

    Thanks mate... keep reading me...

    @ ST

    Dhoti is a white colored (normally) cloth worn in place of pants in my country. Its good and a person in that looks awesome!! Check out some pics in Google...



Thanks for reading me and choosing to comment. Your comment always encourages me to write more and write sense. Keep visiting, whenever you can and comment on the posts. I will be more than eager to receive your comments and suggestions.

Warm Regards,
Tan :)

PS: Please visit my other blog: Thus Spake Tan!